Bay Ho Homicide
Outside the McDonald’s where the victim sought help. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A man accused of fatally shooting a 79-year-old man outside the victim’s Bay Ho-area workplace during a failed carjacking attempt pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.

Francisco Xavier Villegas, 21, allegedly opened fire on Jose Quirin as the victim was sitting in his parked vehicle outside his workplace on Morena Boulevard last Tuesday morning.

Following the gunfire, the shooter ran off, according to SDPD Lt. Jud Campbell, while Quirin drove about a mile away to a McDonald’s restaurant near the intersection of Garnet Avenue and Interstate 5 in Pacific Beach.

Employees of the eatery flagged officers down at around 5:15 a.m. and Quirin was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly said the carjacking was sparked after Villegas’ car broke down. Since he was on probation at the time and unlawfully had a gun on him, the prosecutor said Villegas abandoned his car to avoid law enforcement attention, and attempted to take the victim’s vehicle.

When Quirin refused, Reilly said Villegas shot him “point blank one time in the chest.”

Reilly said Villegas’ alleged flight from the crime scene was captured on surveillance footage, which he said shows Villegas’ face, tattoos and clothing.

Villegas was arrested one day after the shooting for allegedly violating his probation, which Reilly said stemmed from a South Bay robbery case. He was booked one day later in connection with the shooting.

Along with murder, Villegas is facing a special circumstance allegation of committing the killing in the commission of a carjacking, meaning he could face capital punishment if convicted and prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty.

He remains in custody without bail.

City News Service contributed to this article.